A plush headboard doesn't have to be a luxury reserved for fancy hotels. Hanging one in your bedroom adds an element of warmth without the cost that comes with buying an entire bed frame. And building a headboard yourself is easier than you might imagine. You'll use ¾-inch plywood as the backing and wrap it in 1-inch-thick foam padding to create soft, rounded edges before attaching the fabric. Then you'll finish it with nailhead trim sold in strips, saving you hours of tapping in individual nails around the perimeter. If you'd rather buy a headboard, expect to pay a premium for a tufted design or upscale fabrics. Whether you build or buy your new headboard, position it on the wall so that the bottom lands below the mattress, giving the impression that it extends all the way to the floor.
Similar to shown: Premier Prints Houndstooth Fabric, about $7.50 per yard; fabric.com
Overview for How to Upholster a Headboard
We built a 60-inch-wide headboard that is 48 inches tall, to hang behind a queen-size bed.
¾-inch pine plywood back: one @ 48 by 60 inches
1x4 pine for the French cleat: one @ 54 inches
1-inch-thick foam padding: Cut to fit.
Cotton batting: Cut to fit.
Fabric: Cut to fit.
Size the Materials
Clamp a straightedge to the plywood, and use a circular saw to cut the panel. Lay the panel on the foam, and cut the foam to the size of the panel with a utility knife.
Measure and Mark
If your fabric has a pattern, find its middle and align it with the center of the panel. Then measure and mark the fabric and batting 3 inches wider than the panel on all four sides so that they can wrap over the plywood edge. Use fabric shears to cut the material to size.
Pad the Headboard
Using fast-drying adhesive, spray the panel, one side of the foam, and the edges of the foam. Stick the foam to the panel, except along the perimeter. Then fold the edges of the foam down to meet the plywood, creating a gentle curve.
Wrap in Batting and Fabric
Wrap the panel in batting, and use a staple gun with ⅜-inch staples to fasten it to the back, always working from the center out. Lay your fabric facedown and center the panel on it, soft-side down. Pull the excess fabric over the edge of one side and staple it onto the back. Pull the opposite side taut and staple it down. Staple the top and bottom, too.
Cut the nailhead trim into four strips to line the perimeter. Use a small rubber mallet to nail the first strip down at a corner, and work out from that point; for any strip that doesn't end at an opening for a nail, cut the strip short and fill the gaps with individual nails.
Using a circular saw with the blade set to 45 degrees, rip a 1×4 in half to make a French cleat. Use 1¼-inch wood screws to fasten the top of the cleat to the back of the headboard, 6 inches from the top. Install the bottom half to the wall, mitered edge out, using 2½-inch wood screws, making sure to hit at least two studs. Hang the headboard and push your bed against it.